Employer Cannot Appeal Workers' Comp Award of Damages in Walker County, Alabama

Damages are an award, typically of money, to be paid to a party in a case as compensation for that person’s loss or injury. The rules for determining those damages can and frequently do vary based on the type of claim to which they apply.

Recently, in Walker County, in Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, Inc. v. Jerry G. Dunn, the Court considered an appeal from a judgment pursuant to the Alabama Worker’s Compensation Act.

The judgment from the trial court stated that the employee, Jerry Dunn, had incurred “certain medical expenses” related to his on-the-job-injury and that those expenses were reasonable and directly resulting from this work injury. The certain expenses were determined by the trial court to be paid by Jasper Water Works and Sewer Board, Inc. Jasper appealed this judgment.

The Court noted that the trial court’s judgment referenced “certain medical expenses” but did not specify the exact amount of damages due to Jasper. When there is not a precise number, the judgment is nonfinal.

Nonfinal judgments cannot support appeals. The Court, in this instance, referenced a 2007 case, Ex parte Baptist Health System, Inc., which explained that when the trial court does not specify the amount of damages to be awarded to the employee, there is not a final judgment available to support an appeal. As such, the Court dismissed Jasper’s appeal.

The main takeaway from this case is that if you are seeking to appeal from a worker’s compensation case, there must be a specified amount of monetary damages attached to the judgment before you can appeal. In a situation like Jasper’s, an appeal is not appropriate before the damages have been determined.

If the amount of damages is an issue, the amount of damages must first be determined to then take up on appeal. It logistically does not make sense to challenge an unspecificed award of damages.

It is important to seek an experienced worker’s compensation attorney who understands the realities of Alabama worker’s compensation law.

If you need a worker’s compensation lawyer, contact INGRAM LAW LLC at (205) 236-3997 for help with your case.

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